Schools chief, mayors seek more funds from Senate

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The two groups most likely to benefit from changes made by Indiana House Republicans to the state budget asked Thursday that the Senate Appropriations Committee maintain new funding for roads and schools, and maybe find a little more.

Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz opened the Senate budget hearing with a call for more money for teachers, many of whom have not seen a raise in years.

"This is not enough money to compensate effective and highly effective teachers," she told the panel.

Gov. Mike Pence increased school funding $128 million in his budget, but the House added another $200 million to that figure. Lawmakers from both parties have said $300 million in education cuts made by former Gov. Mitch Daniels needed to be restored.

Ritz has faced trouble in the House, where Republicans who drove a sweeping education system overhaul two years ago floated plans to strip power from her office, amid concerns she might not enforce the changes. But her dealings with the Senate have been far easier, where Republicans have taken a wait-and-see approach with the new schools chief.

The state is also facing a transportation shortfall caused by the end of funding from the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road and a continued decline in gas-tax collections.

Pence proposed putting roughly $347 million in a transportation fund at the conclusion of the next two-year budget. But House Republicans said that money was needed sooner and proposed spending another $250 million annually on roads.

Mayors representing the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns told lawmakers of their travails trying to do basic tasks like pave roads amid a continuing budget squeeze. Joe McGuinness, mayor of Franklin, detailed his stress trying to figure out how to find $500,000 to rebuild a half-mile of road with a $300,000 city transportation budget.

"We do beg, borrow and steal from a lot of other departments," McGuinness said of his city's transportation efforts in general.

The 2013 budget battle has largely been waged between supporters of Pence's plan to cut the personal income tax by 10 percent and supporters of more funding for roads and schools. House Republicans swapped Pence's tax cut, which would cost more than $500 million annually, for an additional $200 million for schools and another $500 million for roads.

Lawmakers must approve their biennial budget before leaving the Statehouse at the end of next month. The $30 billion plan consists largely of spending on school but also includes a series of pass-throughs to the state's localities, including roads money.

The General Assembly is working with a roughly $500 million annual surplus and $2 billion in cash reserves left by former Gov. Mitch Daniels, but also struggling with pent-up demand from the many spending cuts he made to build those reserves.


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  1. I'm a CPA who works with a wide range of companies (through my firm K.B.Parrish & Co.); however, we work with quite a few car dealerships, so I'm fairly interested in Fatwin (mentioned in the article). Does anyone have much information on that, or a link to such information? Thanks.

  2. Historically high long-term unemployment, unprecedented labor market slack and the loss of human capital should not be accepted as "the economy at work [and] what is supposed to happen" and is certainly not raising wages in Indiana. See Chicago Fed Reserve: goo.gl/IJ4JhQ Also, here's our research on Work Sharing and our support testimony at yesterday's hearing: goo.gl/NhC9W4

  3. I am always curious why teachers don't believe in accountability. It's the only profession in the world that things they are better than everyone else. It's really a shame.

  4. It's not often in Indiana that people from both major political parties and from both labor and business groups come together to endorse a proposal. I really think this is going to help create a more flexible labor force, which is what businesses claim to need, while also reducing outright layoffs, and mitigating the impact of salary/wage reductions, both of which have been highlighted as important issues affecting Hoosier workers. Like many other public policies, I'm sure that this one will, over time, be tweaked and changed as needed to meet Indiana's needs. But when you have such broad agreement, why not give this a try?

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